As the Japanese sweep through the East Indies during World War II, Dr. Wassell is determined to escape from Java with some crewmen of the cruiser Marblehead. Based on a true story of how Dr... See full summary »
In 1763, felon Abby Hale is sentenced to slavery in America. In Virginia, heroic Capt. Holden buys her, intending to free her, but villain Garth foils this plan, and Abby toils at Dave Bone's tavern. Garth is fomenting an Indian uprising to clear the wilderness of settlers, giving him a monopoly of the fur trade. Holden discovers Garth's treachery, but cannot prove anything against him. Can Holden and Abby save Fort Pitt from the Senecas? Many hairbreadth escapes. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cooper And Goddard Take a Walk in the Woods and Go Over the Falls
Unconquered is a milestone in the career of Gary Cooper. It was the last of four films he did for Cecil B. DeMille and his last featured role during his stay with the Paramount studio. I'd have to say that Coop went out with an expensive bang.
The film illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of a DeMille project. The color photography by Ray Rennahan is first rate, the eye for historical detail about the colonial period in terms of costumes and sets superb. The spectacle is only as DeMille could create it. Yet he could make such an elementary mistake by having the Seneca Indians pursue Gary Cooper on horseback. It was only the plains Indian tribes west of the Mississippi that used horses. But the public wanted to see Indians on horses, they were used to seeing Indians on horses. So DeMille gave them what they wanted.
DeMille himself in his autobiography confessed that he was not satisfied with the showdown of hero Gary Cooper and chief villain Howard DaSilva. He felt it was anti-climatic. I wish he had done it a bit better myself.
The film is based on a historical novel The Judas Tree by Neil Swanson who also wrote Allegany Uprising about the same colonial period. The story takes place with the background of the uprising by Pontiac who was trying to unite all the Indian tribes and keep the whites on the east side of the Appalachian mountains.
Paulette Goddard is a woman condemned to the gallows in London and is given a choice to go to the colonies as a bond servant. Of course she takes it and catches the eye of both Cooper and DaSilva. That's a common DeMille characteristic in his films, two men in heat over the leading lady.
DaSilva is a trader with the Indians and his reasons for wanting to keep whites out of the western territories is so he can keep a monopoly of the fur trade. He's quite ruthless in his methods, even marrying the daughter of Chief Boris Karloff of the Senecas played by Katherine DeMille. Karloff's Senecas are allied with the Pontiac Confederation and their job is to attack Fort Pitt and the town it shields, the little village of Pittsburgh.
Such events as the siege of Fort Pitt and the massacre at Venango are interwoven in the lives of Cooper and Goddard. He leaves Fort Pitt to rescue her and they both have quite a time escaping from the Senecas. The scene that is most talked about here is our hero and heroine going over Niagara Falls in a canoe chased in canoes by pursuing Senecas. What's most interesting about it is that it isn't done on location. Living up here for the past 10 years and seeing it as a kid, I can tell you the Falls doesn't look as primeval in real life as DeMille shows you how it looked in 1763. Yet even today it's quite a breathtaking site to see our intrepid two take the plunge.
Back in 1947 we certainly weren't terribly concerned about presenting the Indian point of view on screen and DeMille is a man of his times. There was a good film done about a decade ago about Chief Tecumseh and his attempt at an Indian confederation. Maybe we will get one about Pontiac and his movement.
Until then we have to watch items like Unconquered, enjoy the spectacle and fill in the blanks.
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